How a pilot in one of America's least stealthy aircraft saved a downed pilot from one of the stealthiest - We Are The Mighty
Military Life

How a pilot in one of America’s least stealthy aircraft saved a downed pilot from one of the stealthiest

In March 1999, NATO announced that coalition forces would begin a massive air war and bombing campaign against Serbia. Within hours after the first round of strikes, an A-10 squadron received an urgent call that one of America’s stealthiest aircraft had been shot down — the F-117 Nighthawk.


It was reported the stealth pilot managed to bail out in time but was trapped deep behind enemy lines.

As rebel forces assembled to hunt down the American pilot, allied forces gathered and quickly began designing a search and rescue mission to locate their missing brother.

“One of the things I have to do as the on-scene commander is figure out if he’s ready to be picked up,” Air Force pilot John Cherrey explains.

Related: 5 countries that tried to shoot down the SR-71 Blackbird (and failed)

Since landing an A-10 in enemy territory was impractical, using Black Hawks to pick up the missing pilot was the only option. But with Serbian missiles on high alert, there was no way helicopters could outrun enemy defenses.

The rescue mission must be handled with extreme caution or risk losing more men, so developing a clever plan was in order.

The Warthog’s commanders decided to create a diversion that would prompt Serbian anti-air missile radar to look in one direction, while the slower Black Hawks swooped in through the enemies’ back door.

Also Read: That time American POWs refused a CIA rescue mission in Vietnam

Their plan worked as the two Black Hawks managed to sneak their way to the downed pilot and egresses out of the Serbian air space. Once the A-10s were notified the pilot was safe, they bugged out and went home. No additional casualties were reported.

Mission complete.

Check out the Smithsonian Channel‘s video to see how Allied forces went on this daring rescue mission for yourself.

(Smithsonian Channel, YouTube)

Articles

This powerful film tells how Marines fought ‘One Day Of Hell’ in Fallujah

The 2004 Second Battle of Fallujah will be talked about among Marines for years to come, but for some who fought in those deadly streets and from room-to-room, the battle continues to play out long after they come home.


“The most difficult part of transitioning into the civilian world is the fact that I was still alive,” says Matt Ranbarger, a Marine rifleman who fought in Fallujah, in a new documentary released on YouTube called “The November War.”

The end result of a successful Kickstarter campaign, “The November War” gives an intimate look at just one event that changed the lives of the nearly dozen Marines profiled in the film: An operation to clear a house in the insurgent-infested city on Nov. 22, 2004.

“I remember we got a briefing that morning, and I didn’t like it,” squad leader Catcher Cutstherope says, describing how his leaders told the Marines they could no longer use frag grenades when room clearing. Instead, they were instructed to use flash or stun grenades, and only use frags if they were absolutely certain there was an insurgent inside.

“We were all pretty much ‘what the f–k are we gonna do with a flash grenade, it’s not gonna do anything,'” Nathan Douglas says. “We were pretty much right on that part.”

How a pilot in one of America’s least stealthy aircraft saved a downed pilot from one of the stealthiest

With part interview, part battle footage — shot by Marines during the battle with their own personal cameras — the film is unlike other post-9/11 war documentaries. Similar docs give the viewer insight into a full deployment — “Restrepo” and the follow-up “Korengal” are good examples — or a bigger picture look at both the planning and execution of a combat operation, like “The Battle for Marjah.”

“The November War” takes neither of these approaches, and the film is much better for it. Instead, Garrett Anderson, the filmmaker and Marine veteran who also fought in the battle, captures poignant moments from his former platoon-mates years after their combat experience is over. Some describe going into a room as an insurgent fires, while others talk through their thoughts after being shot.

In describing clearing the house — a costly endeavor that resulted in six Marines wounded — the film reveals the part of that day that still haunts all involved: The death of their friend, Cpl. Michael Cohen.

The documentary captures visceral stress among the Marines. Years later, sweat beads off their foreheads. As they speak, they are measured, but their voices are tinged with emotion. Viewers can tell they see that day just as clearly, more than a decade later.

Perhaps the most revealing part of the film is when Anderson asks all his interviewees whether it was worth it. One Marine filmed is offended by the question, answering that of course every Marine would answer yes. But that doesn’t play out onscreen, as two members of the unit express their doubts.

How a pilot in one of America’s least stealthy aircraft saved a downed pilot from one of the stealthiest

“Losing that many guys, friends … any of them,” says Brian Lynch, the platoon’s corpsman. “I don’t think it was worth it.”

In the end, “The November War” is one of those must-watch documentaries. It gives a look into what it’s like for troops in combat, and beautifully captures the raw emotion that can still endure long after they come home.

“You know how people say ‘freedom isn’t free?'” asks Lance Cpl. Munoz soon after the film opens.

“Well, you, the one watching this at home on TV right now … sitting eating popcorn, or a burger,” he says, pointing to the camera. “Living the high life. And if you’re a Marine watching this sh– and you’re laughing, it’s because you already went through this sh–.”

You can watch the full documentary below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QdwqUvjX8u0

YouTube, That Channel

Military Life

The top 6 reasons people decide to join the infantry

Deciding to join the military is a huge step for anyone looking to make a life-altering change. One of the most appealing aspects of becoming a member of the armed forces is the vast array of professional opportunities the service offers.

You can sign up, ship out, and, within a few short months, be guarding a military installation as your newfound brothers- and sisters-in-arms sleep.


That’s a pretty crazy thought, right? Well, we think so. While everyone has their individual reasons for signing up for service, electing to serve in the infantry, the dangerous role, says a great deal about a person. These are the top 6 reasons that people sign up to join the ground-pounders.

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It’s a family legacy

A common reason for joining the military is a family connection to service. However, since joining the infantry can mean seeing some intense combat, it takes a bold person to follow in their father’s or grandfather’s war-hero footsteps. To those brave troops that serve to honor their family legacy, we salute you.

To be a part of something big

Signing up means you could help your unit rid an enemy-infested area of insurgents and free the innocent locals within — it’s a possibility. However, serving in the infantry doesn’t always mean you’re going to end up in a bloody war zone.

You will, however, likely end up deploying to another country where you’re going to work alongside a foreign Army and help them train. It’s how much of our nation’s foreign relationships are built and we think that’s badass.

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(Columbia Pictures)

You got conned into it

Military recruiters are slick when it comes to talking a teenager into joining the infantry. That’s a pretty cut-and-dry way many end up going to the grunts.

Yes, that’s kind of messed up, but honorably completing your service contract is an outstanding feat nonetheless.

Using it as a segue

Serving in a grunt unit opens many, many doors for service members. That’s right; not all ground-pounders transition into law enforcement when they get out. You can write about your unique experiences for a living, become a military adviser for a Hollywood production, or go back to school and learn a new craft.

The choice is yours.

The experience

Sitting behind a desk isn’t the worst job you can have in the military. But serving in the infantry offers you tons of experiences that you otherwise would never see. Use the military like they’re going to use you. Take every opportunity you’re offered and you can make a career out of those experiences after you get out.

Look at all of us who work at We Are The Mighty — just sayin’.

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Bragging rights

Not many people in the world can say they helped clear out an enemy-infested city alongside their brothers- and sisters-in-arms, but we totally can.

Plus, you can rest easy tonight knowing you aren’t a POG.

Military Life

The pros and cons of being a military spouse

The title of “Military Spouse” is a descriptor that those married to service members wear proudly — and with good reason. There is a sense of pride in being married to someone who has dedicated their life and career to defending our great nation.


Military life affects the entire family to varying degrees and finding others who can relate to what you are going through is important. So, it makes sense to identify as a “Military Spouse” and be an active part of that community.

How a pilot in one of America’s least stealthy aircraft saved a downed pilot from one of the stealthiest
We’re a family and it’s beautiful. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Calvin Shamoon)

But is there a downside?

Maybe.

My husband recently retired from the military after 20 years in the Marine Corps. We were ready for this transition. We knew exactly where we wanted to retire, we had friends and family in the area, and, having already lived in the location in the past, we had a few roots already planted.

I was a very active part of the military-spouse community and, over time, I became very well-versed in making friends and adapting to living in certain areas for only a few years at a time. Even today, we still find ourselves gravitating towards military families when it comes to social gatherings.

But 18 months into this “retirement” phase of our lives together, I am feeling a little bit lost.

It’s not that I’m getting the itch to move — I have jokingly told my husband that I just want to be buried in the backyard because I am not moving again. But I do feel a loss of identity when it comes to friendships.

How a pilot in one of America’s least stealthy aircraft saved a downed pilot from one of the stealthiest
No one gets the military community like the military-spouse community. (U.S. Army Photo by Staff Sgt. John Healy)

Making friends with folks who have lived in one area their entire lives is a bit challenging. It’s not because they’re not open to being friends with a newcomer, it’s because I find myself so far out of my comfort zone. The zone where, no matter what, another military spouse and I instantly had at least one thing in common upon first meeting. So I struggle to create long-lasting, meaningful friendships (that are so valuable to my mental health) in a community of people who have been around each other their entire adult lives.

Was there something I wish I had done differently while my husband was on active duty? I’m not sure. I don’t regret the many incredible, life-long friends I made, even if they are spread out across the world. I don’t regret being active in the military-spouse community because I learned so much and grew as a person.

How a pilot in one of America’s least stealthy aircraft saved a downed pilot from one of the stealthiest
Military spouses of Combat Logistics Battalion 31 visit local children at the Life is Beautiful Daycare Center in Ishikawa, Okinawa, Japan. (U.S Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jonah Baase)

But I do wish that I had spent more time making connections with those outside of the community. I had “civilian family” friends, sure, but it feels like a life skill I could have spent more time honing.

Just like active duty service, transition out of military service impacts the entire family. There are many aspects of the transition to be considered, but one that I really wish I had realized was being careful of putting so much stock in my identity as a military spouse, especially when it comes to the friends I made.

I don’t wish that I had spent less time with military friends, I don’t wish that I had shied away from participating in the community, but I do wish I had spent more time thinking of life after my husband’s military service in regards to my own identity.

Military Life

The third Invictus Games just kicked off in Toronto — and it’s awesome

Competitors, celebrities, royalty, and spectators came together Sept. 23 to kick off the 2017 Invictus Games at the sold-out Air Canada Centre here.


Inspired by the Department of Defense Warrior Games, an adaptive sports competition for wounded, ill, and injured service members and veterans, Britain’s Prince Harry created the Invictus Games in 2014.

The prince, who was on hand at the opening ceremony, flew Apache helicopters in Afghanistan during his military service.

“Invictus is all about the dedication of the men and women who served their countries, confronted hardship, and refused to be defined by their injuries,” he said last night. “Invictus is about the families and friends who face the shock of learning that their loved ones have been injured or fallen ill and then rally to support them on their journey to recovery. Above all, Invictus is about the example to the world that all service men and women, injured or not, provide about the importance of service and duty.

How a pilot in one of America’s least stealthy aircraft saved a downed pilot from one of the stealthiest
Britain’s Prince Harry speaks during the opening ceremony for the 2017 Invictus Games at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Sept. 23, 2017. The prince established the Invictus Games in 2014. DoD photo by Roger L. Wollenberg.

“We made a great start in London in 2014,” he continued. “We took it to the next level in Orlando last year, and over the next week, in this year, as we celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary, Toronto is going to put on a games that draws the attention of the world.”

More than 550 wounded, ill, and injured service members and veterans from 17 nations will compete in 12 sporting events at the Invictus Games, including archery, track and field, cycling, golf, sitting volleyball, swimming, wheelchair rugby, and wheelchair basketball. The games run through Sept. 30.

“[There are] more competitors, more sports, more nations, more friends, more families, and more people watching at home than ever before,” Harry said. “With the people in this arena tonight and those watching across Canada and around the world, we have the biggest crowd Invictus has ever enjoyed. In the days ahead, I know that many of you will be experiencing Invictus for the first time. I hope you’re ready for some fierce competition. I hope you’re ready to see the meaning of teamwork that proves that anything is possible when we work together. I hope you’re ready to see courage and determination that will inspire you to power through the challenges in your own life. I hope you’re ready to see role models in action that any parent would want their children to look up to. And I hope you’re ready to see lives change in front of your eyes.”

How a pilot in one of America’s least stealthy aircraft saved a downed pilot from one of the stealthiest
Retired US Marine Corps Sgt. Anthony McDaniel celebrates with retired Army Sgt. 1st Class Chuck Amsted after winning the wheelchair basketball championship against the United Kingdom at Invictus Games, Orlando, Fla., May 12, 2016. USAF Photo by Tech. Sgt. Joshua L. DeMotts.

Camaraderie Among Athletes

Marine Corps Sgt. Ivan Sears, co-captain of the US team, said he thinks his squad will be strongest in rugby, track and field, volleyball, wheelchair basketball, and swimming. The camaraderie among the athletes from the respective service branches and other countries has been good, he added.

“I visited with someone from the Netherlands for about 20 minutes this morning,” said Sears, who said his favorite sport is wheelchair racing on the track. “Everybody’s getting along, laughing, and having a smile on their face.”

His mother, Judy Pullin, said she is proud of her son and his team.

“I’m very proud of Ivan. I’m going to be the bragging momma here. He medaled four times here last year. He medaled four golds, and it was just amazing. I was definitely crying,” she said. “These are all athletes. Yes, they may have a disability. They may have something physical or an invisible wound, but you’ve just got to be proud of them.”

How a pilot in one of America’s least stealthy aircraft saved a downed pilot from one of the stealthiest
Air Force Capt. Christy Wise, US team captain, carries the American flag as her team enters the opening ceremony for the 2017 Invictus Games at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Sept. 23, 2017. At right is team co-captain Marine Corps Sgt. Ivan Sears. DoD photo by Roger L. Wollenberg.

Medically retired Cpl. Melanie Harris of the Canadian armed forces, who is competing in compound archery and sitting volleyball, joked that the Canadian motto is, “I’m not sorry.”

“Canadians are known for being sorry but not sorry; however I want them to know they’re always welcome back here,” she said with a laugh. Harris said Canada’s wheelchair rugby and wheelchair basketball will be among the Canadian team’s best events.

“It’s going to be a great competition,” she said. “We’re going to do great. We will bring some gold home. We don’t mind sharing, too, but whoever wins wins, [and] we’re going to fight for it.”

Harris said her teammates have been taking care of each other and are like family. “We’re all there for each other,” she added.

How a pilot in one of America’s least stealthy aircraft saved a downed pilot from one of the stealthiest
Vice Chief of Staff of the Airforce Gen. Stephen W. Wilson talks with Staff. Sgt. Sebastiana Lopez-Arellano at York Lions Stadium (YOR), Toronto, Canada, Sept. 24, 2017. US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Daniel Luksan.

Medically retired Lance Cpl. Dennis Resell of Denmark’s special operations forces is competing in archery and sitting volleyball. He said he has confidence in his team as well. “We’re going to do great. You can’t beat the Vikings,” he said. “Team Denmark’s biggest strengths are definitely our team spirit and our brotherhood.”

Resell said he enjoys the camaraderie among the athletes and had been looking forward to the opening ceremony. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” he said. “Walking in there, people cheering — it’s going to be great.”

The Central Band of the Canadian Armed Forces from Ottawa and the Royal Regiment Band from Quebec performed as the 550-plus competitors from the 17 participating countries entered the arena. Thailey Roberge of Vancouver, British Columbia, and Elliot Miville-Deschenes of Montreal represented the youth of Canada and hosted the opening ceremonies. They sang “O Canada,” the Canadian national anthem, and then “Under One Sky” to celebrate the Invictus Games Flag Tour.

As Laura Wright sang the official 2017 Invictus Games song, “Invincible,” more than 200 members of the Canadian Military Wives National Choir joined her. Canadian Rangers marched in bearing the Invictus Games flag and raised it high.

How a pilot in one of America’s least stealthy aircraft saved a downed pilot from one of the stealthiest
Team Canada lights the 2017 Invictus Games torch during opening ceremonies in Toronto, Canada Sept. 23, 2017. DoD photo by EJ Hersom.

Canadian singer Sarah McLachlan performed “I Will Remember You” and then spoke of the Lighting of the Flame ceremony, which began in Kabul, Afghanistan. The flame passed from Afghan security forces veteran Maj. Ahmad Shahh to retired Canadian Master Cpl. Jody Mitic, official ambassador of the Toronto Games.

Michael Burns, CEO of the Invictus Games 2017 organizing committee, said the committee is leveraging most of the infrastructure used in the Pan American Games here in 2015.

“We will be up in Scarborough for swimming. Tomorrow, we will be up at York University at their brand new stadium for athletics. The old Maple Leaf Gardens will be a massive hub of activity. We drained the reflective pool at the Nathan Phillips Square to host wheelchair tennis. We’re hosting archery at Fort York, and we’re using Hyde Park for cycling,” Burns said. “This city is going to be lit up over the next eight days. There isn’t anywhere you’re going to be able to turn and not see a banner or sign or sport competition or the competitors throughout the city enjoying themselves.”

He said the closing ceremony and almost every ticketed sporting competition has sold out.

How a pilot in one of America’s least stealthy aircraft saved a downed pilot from one of the stealthiest
Michael Burns, Invictus Games Toronto chief executive officer, speaks during the 2017 Invictus Games opening ceremony in Toronto, Canada Sept. 23, 2017. DoD photo by EJ Hersom.

“Over the next eight days, you will be moved; you will be inspired. You will be entertained. You will see things on the playing field you have never seen before,” he said. “These games aren’t about the finish line. These games are all about making it to the starting line. The men and women who will be competing in these games — talk to any one of them — they’ll tell you that they have been injured as a result of their service. Any one of them has been tested many, many times by faith throughout their careers, and yet they remain undefeated, undiminished, proudly and distinctly unconquered.”

Words of Encouragement

First Lady Melania Trump met with the US team before the ceremony.

“On behalf of my husband and our entire country, I want to thank you and your families for all you have sacrificed to keep us safe,” she said to the roughly 100 athletes. “I want to wish you good luck, though I know you won’t need it in these games. Take that fighting spirit that I know you have and bring home the gold.”

How a pilot in one of America’s least stealthy aircraft saved a downed pilot from one of the stealthiest
First Lady Melania Trump holds a T-shirt in support the United States competitors surrounding her before the opening ceremony for the 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto, Sept. 23, 2017. DoD photo by EJ Hersom.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also offered encouragement to the Invictus Games athletes. “You’re not just here to inspire, you’re here to win,” he said. “Through your athleticism, through your drive and your competitive spirit, you are showing the world that illness and injury can actually be a source of tremendous strength.”

Actor Mike Myers, Invictus Games 2017 ambassador, said he supports the Invictus Games because they provide the adaptive athletes the ability for rehabilitation, personal achievement and recovery through the power of sports.

“I come from a military family,” he said. “My mother, who passed away in March, was in the Royal Air Force. She’s one of those ladies you see in World War II movies. She would move the fighters toward the incoming Luftwaffe bandits — that’s what my mom would do.

“My father was a royal engineer in the British army and built bridges, cleared minefields,” he continued. “He often recited the unofficial motto of the Royal Engineers: ‘We do the impossible immediately. Miracles take a little longer.’ Mostly, my father spoke about the unbreakable brotherhood of those who served. He remembered the name of every single British soldier he served with, and for every name, [he had] a hilarious story.”

How a pilot in one of America’s least stealthy aircraft saved a downed pilot from one of the stealthiest
Television and movie personality Mike Myers reacts emotionally during a news conference associated with the opening of the 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto, Sept. 23, 2017. DoD photo by EJ Hersom

Myers said he’s grateful for those who have and continue to serve.

“Those that serve our country deserve our utmost respect, and all the [veterans] in the Invictus Games have my deepest respect, admiration and gratitude from the bottom of my heart,” he said, his voice shaking with emotion. “Thank you very much. What I do for a living is silly, and without brave people who keep us safe, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do. The Invictus competitors represent the very best of the human spirit, and I know my mother and father would have wanted me to support that spirit, the competitors and the thousands of wounded warriors around the world. I want to thank all the competitors in the Invictus Games, all of the soldiers currently serving and all of the family members and caregivers. The caregivers are the unsung heroes of service to this country and to all countries. Thank you for your service.”

Helping in Recovery

Harry said he created Invictus to help veterans in their recovery. “In a world where so many have reasons to feel cynical and apathetic,” he said, “I wanted to find a way for veterans to be a beacon of light and show us all that we have a role to play, that we all win when we respect our friends, neighbors and communities. That’s why we created Invictus — not only to help veterans recover from their physical and mental wounds, but also to inspire people to follow their example of resilience, optimism, and service in their own lives.”

How a pilot in one of America’s least stealthy aircraft saved a downed pilot from one of the stealthiest
US Marine Lance Corporal retired Sarah Rudder competes in the Invictus Games 200 meter dash event at York Lions Stadium (YOR), Toronto, Canada, Sept. 24, 2017. US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Daniel Luksan.

As the prince closed the ceremony, he spoke directly to the competitors. “For the next week, we entrust you with the Invictus spirit. You have all come such a long way,” he said. “Some of you have cheated death and have come back stronger than before. Some of you have overcome emotional challenges that, until very recent years, would have seen you written off and ignored. And now you are here, on the world stage, flags on your chest, representing your countries again, supporting your teammates, and looking up into these stands and into the eyes of your families and friends.

“You are all winners,” Harry said to the competitors. “Please don’t forget to love every second of it. Don’t forget about our friends who didn’t come home from the battlefield. Don’t forget those at home who still need our support and don’t forget you are proving to the world that anything is possible. You are Invictus. Let’s get started.”

Military Life

5 reasons your troops are more important than promotion

If there’s one complaint common across the military, it’s that commanders too often care more about their careers than the well-being of their troops. It’s problematic when higher-ups are willing to put lower enlisted through hell if it means they look good at the end of the day.


Troops are quick to recognize this behavior but, unfortunately, commanders don’t see it in themselves or they just don’t care. There are plenty of cases, though, in which a leader will stick their neck out for the sake of their subordinates at the risk of their own career — because they understand what it means to be a leader.

This doesn’t mean you should be soft. It means that you should think about being in your troops’ shoes and understand the sheer magnitude of unnecessary bullsh*t they go through.

Here’s why leaders need to care more about their troops and less about their promotion.

How a pilot in one of America’s least stealthy aircraft saved a downed pilot from one of the stealthiest

Tough love without the love is tough.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Emmanuel Ramos)

They’re essentially your children

No one like to feel unwanted — and that’s exactly what it feels like to have a commander who cares more about their career. It just results in unnecessary misery across the board.

How a pilot in one of America’s least stealthy aircraft saved a downed pilot from one of the stealthiest

They’ll even charge into battle behind you.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Ally Beiswanger)

Troops respond to care with motivation

As previously mentioned, troops know when you’re only after a promotion. Once they pick up on it, they’re going to be reluctant to follow you anywhere. When it becomes clear that you do care, it motivates them to want to work for you. When your troops are motivated, they’ll follow you anywhere.

How a pilot in one of America’s least stealthy aircraft saved a downed pilot from one of the stealthiest

Respect is a two-way street.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Chief Warrant Officer 2 Pete Thibodeau)

You gain more respect

If you rely on your rank to get your respect, you’re going to have a bad time. Your goal as a leader should be to earn the respect of your subordinates by being the commander who gives a sh*t.

Here’s a tip: if a troop comes to you with a problem that doesn’t need to be reported to someone above you, handle it in-house. Your goal should be to do everything you can to avoid having your troops crucified if they don’t deserve it.

How a pilot in one of America’s least stealthy aircraft saved a downed pilot from one of the stealthiest

Maybe your sign will look less and less like this over time.

(Terminal Lance)

They’ll follow the rules

This may not always be true but when troops respect you, they’ll go out of their way to make sure you look good because they want you to succeed and climb through the ranks. After all, kids want to impress their parents by doing good things.

How a pilot in one of America’s least stealthy aircraft saved a downed pilot from one of the stealthiest

They’ll be happy to do things like this for you, but only after you earn respect…

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Alejandro Pena)

They’ll understand when they have to do something stupid

If your troops know you’re the type who won’t ask them to needlessly do stupid tasks, they won’t blame you when you have to. Instead, they’ll blame someone above you for giving you such a task to pass down and understand that you aren’t trying to make their lives miserable.

In fact, they may even start to take initiative for minor tasks so you won’t have to ask them to do it.

Humor

6 silly things troops bring into combat zones

When service members deploy to a combat zone, they get a checklist of gear they’re required to bring that will help them survive.


But many service members end up hauling ridiculous items along with them that they don’t need.

Anything can happen along the way to combat zones; troops could end up in an area that only has electricity for three hours a day and no running water, in which case, that brand-new Nintendo Wi really won’t do much.

Related: 8 pieces of gear grunts buy themselves before deploying

So check out our list of silly things service members bring with them to war:

1. A sh*t-ton of cash

It’s okay to bring a little pocket change, but just be mindful because we’ve seen troops bring hundreds of dollars with them just to be stationed at a combat outpost where there is virtually nothing to buy.

ISIS failed to open a Super Target location near your new command post.

Yes. We’re all happy when a new Super Target store opens. (Images via Giphy)

2. Sports equipment

Having a football, basketball, or a soccer ball handy for some leisure activity while you’re deployed is a great way to relieve stress. But cramping these items into your already stuffed sea bag maybe a bad idea.

They make great care package items though. Write that down. (Images via Giphy)

3. Beach toys

Do we need to emphasize why you shouldn’t pack a pool noodle or an inflatable pool? Service members have done it before — we’ve seen it.

Don’t let that kid be your JTAC. (Images via Giphy)

4. An expensive laptop

Deployment movie nights are basically defined as everyone gathering around one laptop. But it’s not necessary to bring one that’s top of the line with the capability to hack into a secure website or Deejay at your local FOB.

You just don’t need that much power.

Remember, war can get dirty, and grit will find its way in between the keys — it could ruin it.

No matter what tech you bring, please don’t dance like this…ever. (Images via Giphy)

5. Unauthorized clothing

Halloween costumes, wigs, and designer clothes don’t have a real place in that already stuffed seabag.

By all means, have them sent to you in an excellent care package though. You could make a YouTube video and become internet famous. Priorities.

Mouse ears are a great choice to send to your deployed friend or spouse. ISIS will love it. (Images via Giphy)

Also Read: 8 things Marines love to carry other than their weapon

6. Bulky video games

Yes. Service members have been known to pack their X-boxes and PlayStations into their gear and pass them through customs. But many don’t take into account whether they can actually hunt down a TV to play on.

Just something for you to think about before you deploy.

Looks intense. He must be a POG. (Images via Giphy)

What random stuff did you see people pack with them on deployment?

MIGHTY MOVIES

How military chefs will make you consider re-enlisting just for the food

Morale.

In the military, it’s what’s for dinner.


How a pilot in one of America’s least stealthy aircraft saved a downed pilot from one of the stealthiest
Cookie, your goulash fills me full of pep!

And for the military chef, the job is a lot more than just filling bellies with fighting fuel.

Cooking for the Armed Forces concerns the Art of Building Morale. And if an army marches on its’ stomach, then it follows that an Army chef operating at the highest level — who’s able to create culinary magic under the demands of budget, field deployment, and operational extremity — can have a huge individual impact on the health of the mission.

That holds true for every branch, in every situation, from boot camp to battlefield.

Searching for inspired military cooking and meeting the chefs responsible is the central mission of Go90’s series Meals Ready To Eat. And host August Dannehl, a Navy veteran and chef, has a nose for this type of story. For his first foray, he paid a visit to Fort Lee, Virginia to reconnoiter some of the U.S. Armed Forces’ top chefs, who’d gathered there for the annual Military Culinary Arts Competition and Training Event.

How a pilot in one of America’s least stealthy aircraft saved a downed pilot from one of the stealthiest
In the thick of it: Military Culinary Arts Competition, Fort Lee, VA (Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)

How a pilot in one of America’s least stealthy aircraft saved a downed pilot from one of the stealthiest
There’s nothing like the smell of morale in the morning. (Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)

Modeled after the World Culinary Olympics and sanctioned by the American Culinary Federation, the 40-year-old event is a bubbling cauldron of ideas, inspiration, and good old-fashioned inter-service rivalry. But at its heart, the event, like Dannehl’s series, seeks to champion the importance of culinary artistry to the overall operational effectiveness of the military.

Watch more Meals Ready To Eat:

This veteran farmer will make you celebrate your meat

This is why soldiers belong in the kitchen

What happens when a firefighter’s secret identity is revealed

This Galley Girl will make you want to join the Coast Guard

This is the food Japanese chefs invented after their nation surrendered to the Allies

Military Life

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever

When you first enlist, there isn’t much room in the process for you to get what you want. Yeah, you can choose your MOS and you’ll probably get lucky with an enlistment bonus and some school options, but there’s only so much a recruiter can get you. Once you’re in for a few years and your reenlistment window opens, however, the retention NCO is the person you really want to sweet talk. Retention NCOs hold the real power — they’ll move heaven and earth to keep troops in the unit and the military.


Keep in mind, the retention NCO isn’t a wizard who can fix all your problems with a whisk of a pen. Whatever you do, don’t ever confuse their willingness to work with you as an invitation to make demands. If you start holding your enlistment for ransom, you will get laughed out of the office.

Think of these more as poker chips for retention to ante up in exchange for you putting up more time in the military. The more valuable you are and the more time you are willing to give to the unit, the more “chips” they’ll put down. If you’re just Joe Schmoe hiding in the back of the platoon, don’t expect more than a few of these.

6. Get into a school

An easy win you can score is the option to get into a school whenever the slot opens up. This is a pretty simple request since it doesn’t involve HRC.

When a commander is notified that there’s room in a school opening up, the retention NCO can shuffle your name up to the top of that list.

How a pilot in one of America’s least stealthy aircraft saved a downed pilot from one of the stealthiest
Just a tip: If you go to The Sabalauski Air Assault School, don’t wear an 82nd patch. Just throwing that out there — but it will be hilarious for every 101st guy there. (U.S. Army Photo by Army Spc. Brian Smith-Dutton)

Related: These are the difference between Airborne and Air Assault

5. Choice of duty station

A key goal of the retention NCO is to keep the good troops in the unit, but if you request a change of duty station, they’ll understand the bigger picture here is keeping you in the military.

A change of scenery might also give you a new perspective on the military as a whole.

How a pilot in one of America’s least stealthy aircraft saved a downed pilot from one of the stealthiest
You, too, can join in on the military tradition of hating your new duty station, loving your old one, and looking forward to the next one! (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Daylena S. Ricks)

4. Have fun with the ceremony

There are very few moments in anyone’s military career where they have the power to dictate what they want and have it happen. Troops can have fun with where the reenlistment takes place, invite friends and family, and, for a brief period during the ceremony, you’re technically “honorably discharged,” so the enlistment period timer is set back to zero.

Of course, you can’t do anything stupid because the ceremony isn’t done yet and the command and retention will hem your ass up if you make a fool of yourself, but briefly “discharged” troops can laugh at the fact that they can finally put their hands in the pockets of their uniform for a whole ten seconds.

How a pilot in one of America’s least stealthy aircraft saved a downed pilot from one of the stealthiest
A CS Chamber sounds funny until you have to take your mask off to say the oath… (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Caleb Barrieau)

3. Help with promotion

This one is especially helpful for lower enlisted troops looking for a way to prove to the commander that they’re ready to take the next step in the military.

Reenlisting indefinitely won’t make your name appear on the Sergeant First Class List, but it can help an Army Specialist or Corporal get into the Sergeant board.

How a pilot in one of America’s least stealthy aircraft saved a downed pilot from one of the stealthiest
Retention can help you get to the board. You’re on your own when you’re there. (U.S. Army Courtesy Photo)

2. Change of MOS

Recruiters (usually) don’t lie, but they don’t shine a light on the reality of certain MOS. If you enlisted hoping for a fun and exciting time in that obscure MOS and now you’re feeling some buyer’s remorse, you can finally reclass.

I mean, you can finally learn that everyone has to embrace the suck: just some more than others.

How a pilot in one of America’s least stealthy aircraft saved a downed pilot from one of the stealthiest

1. The money

Nothing sounds better than pure, hard-earned cash. The amount you can earn is dependent on a lot of factors, including available funds, time during the fiscal year, your MOS (or what MOS you want), and your time in service. But you can at least squeeze something out of Uncle Sam if you know how and when to push for a reenlistment bonus.

If you don’t want to haggle for anything else on this list, at least get yourself some zeroes on that paperwork. Just be sure to reenlist while you’re deployed in a combat zone so you can get that money tax-free.

How a pilot in one of America’s least stealthy aircraft saved a downed pilot from one of the stealthiest
Hey! You might finally be able to pay off that ’69 Camaro you got at a 24% interest rate! (Photo by Cpl. Reece Lodder)

Military Life

6 ways troops deal with hangovers and still make it PT

It’s no secret that troops and alcohol go together like a fine whiskey does with a couple of ice cubes. That’s why it’s not uncommon to hear troops talk about drinking heavily on a work night, even when they know they’re about to PT their asses off in just a few hours.


There’s no magical cure to being drunk. No matter the remedy or superstition, whether it’s drinking coffee or taking a hot shower, nothing can immediately sober someone up — only time and a good night’s rest can do that. But there are ways troops can take the sting out of nature’s reminder that alcohol is, technically, a poison and function at the level required by Uncle Sam.

How a pilot in one of America’s least stealthy aircraft saved a downed pilot from one of the stealthiest
Everyone wants to get swoll but forgets that cardio helps you drink more. Don’t forget to balance the two.
(Photo by Tech. Sgt. Heather Redman)

 

Get fit

How alcohol is handled by the human body depends greatly on a person’s body type. The larger the person, the less of an effect each drop of alcohol has. The metabolism of a person also determines how quickly the alcohol is cleared through the body. This is exactly why extremely big and fit people, like Andre the Giant, can drink 152 beers in a single sitting and function relatively well the following day.

You, probably, aren’t as massive as he was, but you can still boost your metabolism through rigorous exercise.

How a pilot in one of America’s least stealthy aircraft saved a downed pilot from one of the stealthiest
Don’t be that idiot who puts alcohol in their Camelback. You need actual water and the alcohol will eat through the plastic lining.
(Photo by Lance Cpl. Gloria Lepko)

 

Hydrate the night before

To understand why everything hurts in the morning, let’s take a look at exactly what’s happening to your body when you’re hungover. In actuality, it’s the same sensation as doing some extreme training in a hot climate: It’s a bad case of self-inflicted dehydration.

Take a tip from your medic or corpsman and take in plenty of regular, old water before the night begins. It should go without saying, but you should be a one or a two on the pee chart before things get crazy.

How a pilot in one of America’s least stealthy aircraft saved a downed pilot from one of the stealthiest
Which shouldn’t be an issue because they’ll probably be on their way to PT and not stopping by Burger King.
(Photo by Patrick Buffett)

 

Eat a big meal beforehand

As we said, dehydration is the leading reason why hangovers suck. We can continue to mitigate this by making sure our bodies retain as many fluids as possible throughout the night.

Greasy foods with high sodium are common go-tos among troops. While these might not be healthy choices in general, the fats and grease line the stomach, decreasing the amount of alcohol absorbed into the bloodstream.

It should be noted, however, that greasy foods are terrible after someone is hungover because the body will reject it, making nausea worse.

How a pilot in one of America’s least stealthy aircraft saved a downed pilot from one of the stealthiest
If you cut it with a bottle of Gatorade or something, it will go down a lot smoother. But seriously, this stuff tastes like ass.
(Courtesy Photo)

 

Hydration solution formulas

Since hangovers are literally just terrible cases of dehydration, it makes sense that products designed for re-hydration are helpful choices. There aren’t many options for name-brand hydration solution formulas, but if you go into the baby-food aisle at most stores, you’ll find something like Pedialyte.

Yes, it’s technically baby formula. Yes, it’s designed for children with stomach and bowel sicknesses. And yes, it’s going to taste like crap. But if you want a quick hit of electrolytes to help you function as an adult, just drink the damn baby formula.

How a pilot in one of America’s least stealthy aircraft saved a downed pilot from one of the stealthiest
They got pills back there in the Aid Station for every situation and ailment and yet the only thing they give us is Motrin… Just saying…
(Photo by Charles Haymond)

 

Motrin and water

If you really want to hear what your medic has to say, give ’em a visit. They may hook you up with a saline bag (to quickly replenish your fluids and keep ’em in there) or they’ll just toss you some Motrin and tell you to go away.

Now, the Ibuprofen isn’t going to cure your hangover, but it’s going to lessen the symptoms until your body can handle itself. The water, however, is actually going to help, so drink up. You’ll need it if you’re already dehydrated before a big run.

How a pilot in one of America’s least stealthy aircraft saved a downed pilot from one of the stealthiest
The world doesn’t give a damn if you’re in pain during PT. So, neither should you.
(Photo by Lance Cpl. Samantha Villarreal)

 

Suck it up, buttercup

If you really want to know how your crusty ol’ first sergeant handledtheir alcohol back duringtheir barracksdays —they just stop caring and moved through the pain.

Being hungover doesn’teven makethe list of the top 10 thingsthat bothera senior NCO. They’ve pushed their bodies to the limit for God-knows-how-many years and they seem to be doing just fine. At the end of the day,they know that complaining about it doesn’t make it anybetter.

Military Life

Here are the best military photos for the week of March 23rd

In the military, no one knows what’ll happen next — enlisted life is unpredictable and service members must always remain flexible so that they can adapt. No matter what happens, however, there are always some pretty amazing moments and, luckily, there are talented photographers across the service who expertly capture them.


Here are our favorite photos from this week:

Air Force:

From Left to right: Staff Sgt. Leanne Waggoner, Airman 1st Class Alexia Lewis, SSgt. Ashley Cardillo, Capt. Victoria Nicholson, Senior Airman Kaitlyn Besse, Capt. Jamie Larivee, and Capt. Nichole Evans pause for a photo after offloading cargo from a C-17 Globemaster III, March 18, 2018, Darwin, Royal Australian Air Force Base, Australia, during a Women’s Heritage Flight. The all-female aircrew conducted the mission that displayed pride in their heritage and showcased their ability to conduct rapid global mobility in today’s Air Force by transporting equipment and military passengers to Pacific Command area of responsibility.

How a pilot in one of America’s least stealthy aircraft saved a downed pilot from one of the stealthiest
(U.S. Air Force photo by Heide Couch)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Melanie R. Breslin, an aircraft fuel systems specialist at the 177th Fighter Wing, New Jersey Air National Guard, stands fire guard before the launch of an F-16C Fighting Falcon at the Air Dominance Center in Savannah, Georgia, March 22, 2018. The 177th FW participated in an air-to-air training exercise to sharpen air combat capabilities and accomplish multiple training upgrades.

How a pilot in one of America’s least stealthy aircraft saved a downed pilot from one of the stealthiest
(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Cristina J. Allen)

Army:

U.S. Army Paratroopers with 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade run forward during a platoon level

live fire exercise at the 7th Army Training Command’s Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, March 21, 2018.

How a pilot in one of America’s least stealthy aircraft saved a downed pilot from one of the stealthiest
(U.S. Army photo by Gertrud Zach)

Soldiers assigned to the U.S. Army Caisson Platoon, 1st Battalion, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) continue their solemn duty of rendering final honors to fallen military members at Arlington National Cemetery, Va., March 21, 2018. The U.S. Army Caisson Platoon continued to execute their duty despite inclement weather.

How a pilot in one of America’s least stealthy aircraft saved a downed pilot from one of the stealthiest
(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Gabriel Silva)

Navy:

Electronic Technician 3rd Class Justin Davis, a native of Vail, Arizona assigned to Coastal Riverine Squadron (CRS) 3, fires a .50-caliber machine gun aboard MKVI patrol boat during a live-fire exercise as part of unit level training provided by Coastal Riverine Group (CRG) 1 Training and Evaluation Unit. CRG provides a core capability to defend designated high-value assets throughout the green and blue-water environment and providing deployable Adaptive Force Packages (AFP) worldwide in an integrated, joint and combined theater of operations.

How a pilot in one of America’s least stealthy aircraft saved a downed pilot from one of the stealthiest
(U.S. Navy photo by Chief Boatswain’s Mate Nelson Doromal Jr)

Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 3rd Class Emily Westfall directs the crew of an F/A-18F Super Hornet assigned to the Bounty Hunters of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 2 on the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70). The Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group is operating in the western Pacific as part of a scheduled deployment.

How a pilot in one of America’s least stealthy aircraft saved a downed pilot from one of the stealthiest
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Dylan M. Kinee)

Marine Corps:

A Marine with Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, wears an Enhanced Combat Helmet during Urban Advanced Naval Technologies Exercise 2018, March 21, 2018. Urban ANTX18 is an innovative approach to concept of operations and capability development that integrates engineers, technologists, and operators into a dynamic development team.

How a pilot in one of America’s least stealthy aircraft saved a downed pilot from one of the stealthiest
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Robert Alejandre)

U.S. Marines with Force Reconnaissance Company, 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force; British Royal Marines with J Company, 42 Commando and Sailors with Explosive Ordinance Disposal Mobile Unit 5 conduct special insertion and raids training with a section of MH-60Ss from Helicopter Sea Combat 25 on March 18, 2017, on Guam. The units are conducting joint, combined training in order to develop shared standard-of-procedures in a visit, board, search and seizure environment so they can provide a more flexible and mission-ready capability to geographic combatant commanders in the Pacific.

How a pilot in one of America’s least stealthy aircraft saved a downed pilot from one of the stealthiest
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Carl King)

Coast Guard:

Two Coast Guard members assigned to the Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf arrange bales of cocaine on the flight deck in preparation for a drug offload at the B Street Pier in San Diego, March 20, 2018. Bertholf is a 418-foot national security cutter homeported in Alameda.

How a pilot in one of America’s least stealthy aircraft saved a downed pilot from one of the stealthiest
(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Sarah Wilson)

Military Life

These K-9s received the Medal of Courage for excellent service

Officers, medical staff, and interpreters are just a few of the primary targets that enemy forces focus on in the battlefield. But the enemy also has their crosshairs placed on another profession that is excellent at sniffing out homemade bombs — the military working dogs.


Over 1,600 dogs train and serve alongside U.S. forces, completing tasks from bomb-sniffing to hunting down the ingredients that produce the deadly IEDs.

Recently, five well-trained canines received the American Humane Lois Pope K-9 Medal of Courage Award for all their years excellent of service.

Related: This organization matches homeless pets with vets who need them

How a pilot in one of America’s least stealthy aircraft saved a downed pilot from one of the stealthiest
(Source: AmericanHumane.org)

American Humane honors the contributions of the brave working dogs serving in our armed forces.

The American Humane Lois Pope LIFE K-9 Medal of Courage ceremony is held on Capitol Hill with top military leaders and members of Congress in attendance.

The five military working dogs have operated in both OIF and OEF campaigns — each deploying several times. One of the 4-legged workers, Capa, was even assigned to protect the president at one point.

Also Read: This K-9 ‘battle buddy’ is helping a Marine veteran at home

Once a dog is nominated for the award, the American Humane board reviews the recommendation before giving out the highly-respected honor to those you deserve it.

The nomination tab is currently on the bottom American Humane’s homepage. You check it out by clicking here: Americanhumane.org.

The Medal of Courage is the highest award given to man’s best friend.

Check out CBS News video below to see these heroic military working dogs for yourself.

CBS News
MIGHTY TRENDING

7 of the best military movie battle speeches, ranked

The moments leading up to a bloody engagement are frightening. Troops, knowing the end may be near, stand and wonder what lies beyond the next bend.


Every so often, Hollywood recreates this moment on film. Invariably, we see our hero take to ramparts to deliver a rousing speech. It takes some well-written words of encouragement to lower troops’ stress levels and get them ready for the fight.

These are a few of the best battle speeches to ever hit the screen.

Related: 7 of the most overused lines in war movies

7. Zulu

Directed by Cy Endfield, this classic film follows a group of outnumbered Welsh infantrymen as they defend a hospital and supply dump for 12 long hours from a massive force of Zulu warriors.

In this case, the battle speech was more like a war song. Each man belts out lyrics to grant them the courage they need to take on the brutal, blade-wielding charge.

6. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Directed by Peter Jackson, the third installment of this juggernaut trilogy dominated the Hollywood box offices for weeks on end and, hopefully, taught a lesson to a few military leaders on how to deliver speeches to their troops. 

5. Braveheart

Directed and starring Mel Gibson, this Oscar-winning film centers around one poor Scotsman as he rallies a country to fight against English oppression — and it all started with this famous battle speech.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lEOOZDbMrgE

4. Gladiator

It’s a good thing that, in modern war, we don’t to ride into battle on horseback or clash with enemy swords. However, if we did, we’d want to hear words of encouragement from a general who isn’t afraid to fight alongside his men.

3. Independence Day

If the earth is ever attacked by aliens, someone better revive this exceptional battle speech word-for-word to rally up the troops. The world might feel like it’s legitimately going to end, but it only takes a few minutes of a truly inspiring speech to get everyone on the same patriotic page.

2. Patton

Based on the life of the legendary Gen. George Patton, the opening speech to 1970’s Patton is one of the best pieces of motivational dialogue ever recorded on film.

Also Read: 6 of the most disappointing military movies of all time

1. 300

300 follows a small squad of elite Spartan warriors, led by King Leonidas, as they stand their ground against a massive Persian army. After the King’s death, a Spartan named Dilios delivers a speech that motivates the crap out of the rest of the men to take out the remaining Persian army.

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